The new leader of the Centre Party Katri Kulmuni has used her first major policy speech since being elected last weekend to call for more efforts to create jobs.
Under the previous Centre Party-lead government of Juha Sipilä the employment rate rose to 72.4% and during negotiations to form the new government, Keskusta was at pains to say that growth must continue.
Speaking at party headquarters in Helsinki’s Töölö neighbourhood on Thursday, Kulmuni said that other parties in parliament had already staked out their place in Finland’s political landscape – but the Centre Party must look to the future, and rebuild after a bad election result in spring.
“The main role of the centre in this government is to take care of good economic development” she told party members and journalists, adding that there must be concrete action in next week’s budget to boost employment and create jobs.
The Lapland MP also spoke about the need for agreement on regional policy, and challenged other parties to come up with new ideas to work on strengthening the regions.
She compared her hometown of Tornio with her “second hometown” of Helsinki, saying both had their pros and cons.
“In the other Nordic countries, regional policy is being made through strong consensus, cooperation through the party field. Will it succeed in Finland? Are other parties prepared to write a new chapter on regional policy? Me and the Centre Party, we are” she said.
Support for children, social inclusion
Kulmuni also spoke about her party’s emphasis on social inclusion, helping the most vulnerable members of society or those with limited incomes.
“There are a lot of people in this country for whom everyday life is survival from day one. People who, for one reason or another, feel themselves on the sidelines. The future is more uncertain than certain” she said.
The Economic Minister – who today became Finland’s de facto Deputy Prime Minister as well – said that poverty was having an impact in many sectors of society and noticed more frequently in the city.
“Lack of education, low incomes and unemployment. Health and welfare inequalities are increasingly evident. The security experienced in different residential areas also varies more powerfully. This is all reflected in school learning outcomes and school choices” Kulmuni said.